* You are viewing Posts Tagged ‘Samuel Hartlib’

CofK Participates in Hevelius Conference in Gdańsk


Philip consults the Cometographia.


Kim introduces the union catalogue.

CofK Research Fellow, Philip Beeley, and Editor, Kim McLean-Fiander, have recently returned from Poland after participating in a conference on Johannes Hevelius: The Burgher of Gdańsk and his Work. Hosted by the Gdańsk Scientific Society on 24-25 November, and taking place in the splendid historic setting of the Main Town Hall, the conference was organised to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of one of the city’s most famous sons, the astronomer, instrument maker, inventor, brewer, printing-house owner, and town councillor, Johannes Hevelius (1611-87).

The conference opened with a special viewing of some of the Hevelian treasures of the Polish Academy of Sciences Library, including the Cometographia. His life and works were then examined from a wide range of perspectives by speakers from Poland, France, Italy, and the UK on topics such as the correlations between Hevelius’s astronomical observations in Gdańsk and those taken by Jean Picard on the same day in Paris; the controversy which arose between Hevelius and Adrien Auzout over systems for tracking comet paths; Hevelius’s work as an inventor of scientific instruments and the pendulum clock; his curriculum whilst attending the Gdańsk Academic Gymnasium; and his vocational experiences as city councillor, brewer, and printing-house owner. After a private viewing of the Main Town Hall’s excellent exhibition Johannes Hevelius and Gdańsk of his Times, Philip opened Friday afternoon’s session with a paper on ‘Hevelius, Hartlib, and Wallis: Early Modern Ideals of Scientific Collaboration’, which argued that this tripartite correspondence between Oxford, London, and Danzig exemplified, as no other, the ideals of the Republic of Letters: intellectual collaboration and exchange as a means to promote the growth of knowledge. Drawing on examples from these and other correspondents within Hevelius’s circle, Kim then demonstrated our forthcoming digital union catalogue of intellectual correspondence, revealing how it allows researchers not only to locate often elusive and dispersed early modern letters, but also to interrogate them in new and exciting ways.

Kim and Philip would like to thank their Polish hosts, in particular Professor Marian Turek and his wife Liz, for their warm hospitality and the invitation to attend the conference in this beautiful Pomeranian city.

Seminar 6: How Large was Hartlib’s Archive?


Dr Penman during his talk.

brereton_hall3For the sixth paper of our seminar series on Thursday 9 June, our very own Dr Leigh Penman (University of Oxford) shared some of his most interesting Project findings in a talk entitled ‘How Large was Hartlib’s Archive? A Quantiative Analysis and Comparative Reassessment’. In a richly illustrated and wide-ranging analysis, Penman provided both startling new quantitative insights into the original scope of Hartlib’s correspondence, and a rich narrative explanation of why his epistolary corpus has descended to us in such partial form. In the first half of the paper, Penman described the dimensions and attributes of the extant archive, most of which survives among the holdings of Sheffield University Library (and was previously digitized by the Hartlib Papers Project). He also introduced some brand new Hartlib letters he has located in other international repositories, and used the following algorithm, developed in partnership with a theoretical physicist, to estimate the total extent of the original archive:

L = S(x/y)

The equation multiplies the sample size (S) by references in the sample to letters no longer extant (x) divided by references in the sample to surviving letters (y) to arrive at the averaged estimate of total correspondence (L); in Hartlib’s case, a grand total of 11,508 letters, a figure large enough to catapult him into the first rank of European intelligencers such as Peiresc, Boulliau, and Leibniz. In the second half of the paper, Penman speculated on why only around 42% of this original corpus has descended to us. In a painstaking reconstruction of the archive’s passage through space and time – and through different ‘microsociologies’, in Penman’s memorable phrase – he described the steady attrition of Hartlib’s papers through thefts and fires while he was still alive; the sale and scattering of papers by his two sons following his death; and the relocation of the papers to Brereton Hall (pictured) in Cheshire around 1664, where they fell prey to the systematic manipulations of John Worthington, William Brereton, and others. He also discussed further archival tampering in the nineteenth century, evidence for which is liberally scattered throughout the papers (for example in the wrappers of the surviving ‘bundles’), as well as in several long-overlooked scholarly articles. Questions focused on the nature of the mathematical calculations; the grey areas between correspondence and other varieties of document in Hartlib’s notoriously difficult archive; the importance of autograph collections and auction catalogues as sources for the reconstruction of nineteenth-century archives; and the curious lack of interest in Hartlib’s work and legacy on the part of early members of the Royal Society. Seminars take place in the Faculty of History on George Street on Thursdays at 3pm. For future talks in the series, please see the seminar webpage.

Podcast now available on the seminar page!

Universal Reformation: Intellectual Networks, 1560-1670


The opening plenary session.


Relaxing in the foyer.

The Project’s inaugural conference, Universal Reformation: Intellectual Networks in Central and Western Europe, 1560-1670, took place at St Anne’s College on 21–23 September 2010. The event, which was attended by over ninety delegates, built on three preparatory European workshops (held in Prague, Cracow, and Budapest), and allowed forty-two emerging and established scholars from eleven countries to share their perspectives on the international networks and intellectual traditions brought into being by the upheavals of the Thirty Years War. Themes explored included institutional networks and intellectual exchange, encyclopaedia and pansophia, the early modern European media revolution, ecclesiastical reconciliation, and millenarianism, prophecy, and propaganda. Delegates also enjoyed a drinks reception in the Bodleian Library‘s historic Divinity School (incorporating a private viewing of the exhibition ‘My Wit was Always Working’: John Aubrey and the Development of Experimental Science), and were present for the prototype launch of our union catalogue. For further information, including speaker profiles and abstracts, please visit the conference microsite; for details of our 2011 event, please visit the conference webpage.

Universal Reformation: Booking Now Open!

conference_websiteWe are pleased to announce that booking is now open for ‘Universal Reformation: Intellectual Networks in Central and Western Europe, 1560-1670’, the first Project conference, which will take place at St Anne’s College, Oxford, on 21-23 September 2010. Organised by Howard Hotson and Vladimír Urbánek, the event will showcase the work of a diverse group of emerging and established scholars, many from east central Europe, who will converge on the intellectual networks and traditions engendered by the upheavals of the Thirty Years War. For provisional programme information, a steadily growing lists of speaker profiles and abstracts, and to book online, please see the new conference website. The deadline for registration is Friday 10 September.

CofK at DH2010 and the Royal Society

Our poster and stand at DH2010.

Presenting at the Royal Society.

Cultures of Knowledge headed to London last weekend as the Project Director and Coordinator braved thirty-degree metropolitan temperatures to share the Project’s research at two events. At Digital Humanities 2010, the flagship annual meeting of the digital humanities community hosted this year by King’s College London, we presented a poster, which focused mainly on our union catalogue and its technical underpinnings. We received very useful feedback and discovered and made connections with some highly complementary projects, including the initiative discussed below. Meanwhile, at the kind invitation of our collaborator Mark Greengrass, Howard Hotson co-delivered a keynote address at Circulating Ideas in Seventeenth-Century Europe: Networks, Knowledge, and Forms, a conference at the Royal Society organised by Ruth Connolly (University of Newcastle), Felicity Henderson (Royal Society), and Carol Pal (Bennington College). Building on Mark’s overview of Hartlib’s significance as an intelligencer and the trials and tribulations of the Hartlib Papers Project, Howard used a description of the place of Hartlib and his letters within Cultures of Knowledge as the basis for a more general overview of the Project and its aspirations, especially within the digital sphere.

Download the poster presented at DH2010

Article: Paul Egard’s Unanticipated Millennium

Detail from 'Death on the Battlefield', by Stefano della Bella (c.1648). Image courtesy of Leigh Penman.

Dr Leigh Penman, our Samual Hartlib Postdoctoral Fellow, has published an article entitled ‘The Unanticipated Millennium: Orthodoxy, Heterodoxy and Chiliastic Error in Paul Egard’s Posaune der goettlichen Gnade und Liechts (1623)’ in Pietismus und Neuzeit 35 (2009), 11–45. The article situates Egard and his unusual devotional work within several contexts (biographical, literary, and church historical), and problematizes contemporary distinctions between heterodoxy and orthodoxy. Although Egard was a well-regarded Lutheran pastor, the content of Posaune was decisively influenced by his familiarity with heterodox literature of the period, as well as his personal acquaintance with figures such as Joachim Morsius, Hans Engelbrecht, Nicolaus Teting, and others. Egard’s case demonstrates the power some heterodox ideas (specifically millenarian ones) possessed during this period, as well as the influence of networks of heterodox thinkers.

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